Lady’s Gambit is a coming-of-age story about a young American chess prodigy who learns to overcome her demons from childhood to adulthood, but her exact age is unclear at all times.
When Beth meets the Wheatleys, the orphanage director, Helen Deardorff, tells them that Beth is 13 years old in the Lady’s Gambit. Beth starts to correct her, starts to say she’s fifteen, but Deardorff stops her.
Probably in Lady’s Gambit, the director was acting under the assumption that the Wheatleys would not want an older child, so he lied about Beth’s age; however, as Alma later reveals, she chose to adopt a teenager.
Deardorff assumed in Lady’s Gambit that the older a young woman was, the less viable she was as a candidate for adoption, but Beth’s case proves her wrong, and for some prospective parents, a teenage girl is an ideal choice.
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There are also some issues with Beth’s age, that is, it makes Beth’s relationship with Townes a bit of a problem given how young she was when he had her in his hotel room in Lady’s Gambit.
But the fact that her age remains vague helps focus the story on her personal development and the various emotional milestones she reaches on her journey in Lady’s Gambit.